Another change of venue this year: Wellfleet, MA. We seem to be creeping further up the Cape every year.
Day 0: Driving and Arriving
We left the house around mid-afternoon, planning to arrive fashionably late. Our intention worked as planned; we rolled into town around 6 pm and got busy making a pasta-and-meatball dinner for everyone.
After a short dinner, we took everyone to the closest beach to let the little ones burn off some energy. The Fox family had been on the road since morning, and rolled in around 7pm; the kids were exploding with pent up energy and excitement.
Day 1: Rain!
Meghan and I woke up on our usual schedule, 6am. (This continued for the duration of the week.) The weather was forecast to be poor, and it proved true for most, but not all, of the day.
We headed out to a full-size super market in search of a coffee maker (the house’s was AWOL) and groceries for dinner. I prefer to spend a little extra money rather than pack the car with perishables.
After breakfast, the weather cleared enough that almost everyone headed to the beach — I stayed home and napped to catch up on a week of poor sleep, and missed seeing a Great White shark off Marconi Beach.
Dinner turned out to be an unpleasant adventure: we had picked up a pair of roasting chickens that morning, but after unsealing the packages we discovered that the fowl had gone very foul. Tim and Kelly started cranking out their dinner planned for the following night, and Meghan and I dashed back to the store to get our money back.
After dinner and the little kids had gone to bed, we sat down to play Cards Against Humanity —with Alpha and Beta. It was a night that they will not soon forget… nor will I.
Day 2: Chatham
I woke up early to a beautiful day and took a bike ride around the perimeter of Wellfleet. The ocean side of the cape was still socked in with fog, but the land and western side were clear.
After breakfast we took a ride down to Chatham for some shopping and lunch.
We introduced the Fox kids to Ponyo. Tim and Kelly don’t seem to be big on anime, but the kids were fascinated. (Sorry, guys!)
A documentary of Ted Williams premiered on PBS that night, which was important to Joan, so we cleared the deck, got the kids in bed, and watched with her.
Day 3: Marconi
We chose to go hiking around the Marconi Wireless Station on Tuesday.
Day 4: Biking and A Guest
Meghan and tried out the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which has a trail head in Wellfleet. Our goal when we started was Marconi Beach, but the ride was so easy we kept going and made it to Orleans before turning around.
While we were gone, the Foxes hit Mayo Beach in Wellfleet. When Meghan and I got back we headed to the beach with the girls as the Foxes were leaving. We stayed about an hour and a half, and came away with minor sunburns, but the water was warm and the swimming was easy.
We hosted a friend of Joan’s who lives on the Cape, and her young daughter, for dinner.
On this night an issue withe the youngest of the Fox clan, Kappa, not going to bed at bedtime became particularly troublesome. We pledged to find doorknob covers the next day so that he would have to stay in his room at night, even if he wasn’t going to go to bed.
Day 5: P-Town
After a very slow start to the day, we headed to Provincetown with Joan while the Foxes went back to the beach.
We started at the far eastern end of the main drag and worked our way westward. People watching in P-Town is always an adventure. The girls are still young enough to not really notice how bizarre the crowd is and have more fun shopping.
Day 6: Cape Code Lighthouse and Pilgrim Monument
Meghan, Alpha, and I spent the day being tourists.
We checked out the Cape Cod Lighthouse, where Meghan went up –and down– the spiral staircase of the lighthouse.
We then went to the Pilgrim museum and tower in Provincetown. I, however, was the only one to climb the tower.
After dinner at home, the adults stayed up to watch Jaws with the RiffTrax overlay.
Day 7: Leaving
We were supposed to vacate the house by 9 am. We missed the time by less than five minutes (WE were ready, but the Foxes have a small army to move.)
We ate an excellent breakfast at Laura & Tony’s kitchen, and hit the road for home. Others in the party were hitting the beach one last time, but we were all ready to be home.
Date: Evening of December 31, 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Event: New Year’s Eve
We rang in the New Year in traditional style: a night out in Boston. This year we had the very good fortune to be joined by Baba (Meghan’s mother, the girls’ grandmother).
Most years we take a train into the city to avoid issues with ‘amateur night’ drivers, but not this year. Being a Saturday, the commuter rail only runs a limited schedule; there are extra trains but not until later in the evening.
We reserved parking right next to the Commons (Parking Panda to the rescue!) but planned to start the night at Quincy Market. I dropped the rest of the family off there and ran downtown to park the car. I made the short walk back to meet with everyone again in about fifteen minutes.
We shopped a bit before getting an excellent early dinner at The Black Rose. We’ve been there several times; despite it’s location right next to Quincy Market it doesn’t have the air of a tourist trap. It does have excellent Guinness on tap, though!
Let me back up a few days before I present the next photo: both girls have had braces on their teeth for a long while, until this past week. Beta will be getting a second round when she gets a little older, but for now they both have brilliant smiles.
Dinner was followed by a little more window-shopping, a brief stop for Blink, the Greenway Carousel, and dessert in the market.
We walked from Quincy Market to Boston Common, about a mile. We stopped for hot chocolate and hot apple cider across the street at The Thinking Cup Cafe. Both were very good.
Finally, at 7 pm: fireworks.
After the fireworks, our decision to park across the street paid off. We picked up the car and made it out of the city before the rest of the traffic.
Baba slept over our house to avoid amateur night traffic, rain – the threat of rain made good shortly after we got home – and for a promise of waffles in the morning. Meghan and her mom stayed up to watch a show, Hinterland, but everyone was asleep well before midnight.
Baba took the whole clan to Fenway to see the Red Sox play the Chicago White Sox. It was an afternoon game so that the kids could come, too.
Baba generously bought us stadium food as well – no small sum for hot dogs, pretzels, pizza, and Del’s Lemonade.
The Sox stunk until the bottom of the 5th inning, at which point they came back from 4-0 lead by the White Sox to win 7-8.
Delta fell asleep by the 8th inning, which is surprising given the amount of noise every time the Sox got a run. Kappa, who’s about a year and a half, stayed awake and in mostly good spirits through the entire game. Beta was well behaved, and Alpha genuinely enjoyed herself.
We left as the 10th inning was starting so that we could avoid some of the crowds with the kids and headed down the street to get dinner at Wahlburgers.
Meghan and I like to keep our kids exposed to the cultural world, giving them a cosmopolitan worldview. I chose a job near Boston in part to allow frequent trips into the city. But one city isn’t enough to give them a breadth of experience.
We took an overnight trip to New York City during February school vacation. Discovery Times Square is currently exhibiting The Vikings, which is of particular interest to Meghan and Alpha. (That isn’t to say there isn’t interest from me and Beta, they’re just that much more keen.) Meghan found a great deal on motel rooms (the girls are old enough now that we need two) right by Times Square at Four Points by Sheraton. The view wasn’t anything to write home about but the location can’t be beat: two blocks from Times Square. The rooms were clean and neat, and the staff were bend-over-backwards friendly. I would totally stay there again.
We drove down early Wednesday morning, dropping Butter off at Marty’s and picking up Meghan’s mom (aka Baba) on the way. Baba loves going to NYC, she knows the lay of the land better than we do, and she’s a bit more adventurous than I am when the kids are around, so we invited her along. She offered to share the kids’s room to keep costs down — and that provided peace of mind overnight, too.
We rolled into town around noon and got situated in the hotel with time to spare before our exhibit reservations. We walked from the hotel and poked around Times Square for a few minutes.
There were a pair of people in costume, one dressed as Woody from Toy Story and the other as Olaf from Frozen, soliciting tips. They made their own costumes and don’t work for anyone but themselves, so Meghan got photos with each and tipped them a few bucks.
I continue to be amazed how many people are continually in New York City. The crush of people feel like there’s an event going on somewhere, but it’s really just an every day occurrence. Dozens of people at every crosswalk, hundreds of people on every sidewalk, all the time. Boston has nothing on NYC.
We made our way through the crowds to the exhibit and spent about an hour and a half learning about Vikings. As an aside: the exhibit is self-paced and just about the right length. They had a number of artifacts grouped into several themes about everyday life, instead of constructing a sequential historical narrative.
We waited to get lunch until after the exhibit so we were somewhat famished. A few storefronts down from Discovery is a pizza and Italian restaurant called John’s of Times Square, located in a former church. The adults had excellent pizza and the girls had excellent pasta. It might have been a case of hunger making the best sauce, but probably not.
After lunch we shopped around Times Square a bit. Alpha bought a New York-emblazoned sweat shirt and Beta got a pin for her hat. Baba noticed that Phantom of the Opera was playing right in front of us, so she bought three tickets for 8 o’clock that night. Beta wasn’t interested and I was wiped from driving all day; we chose to stay in.
We wandered back to the hotel to rest up. I had to step out in search of a pharmacy: we had a snafu when we left the house and forgot to pack our bathroom stuff.
Our motel offers complimentary dinner stuffs on Wednesday nights. We were just coming off of lunch, not particularly hungry, but the food was delicious. Free wine and beer, too!
We finished dinner and Beta and I headed up to our room to watch some TV and get ready for bed. Meghan, Baba, and Alpha headed out to their show, and didn’t get back until after I was asleep — sometime after 10:30 pm. They said they had a great time though!
We started the next day with an excellent breakfast buffet at the motel. We seem to have a knack for choosing motels with great breakfasts; it really makes dollars stretch further if your breakfast is hearty when you’re traveling.
We decided that we could fit in one more museum visit before leaving town. The American Museum of Natural History was on our way home and is always worth a visit. We also considered the USS Intrepid but decided to save it for another visit so we can give it the amount of time it deserves.
We got in early and encountered almost no waiting to get into the parking garage and admissions line. We had three destinations in mind: the dinosaurs, the blue whale, and the gift shop. We got to see all three, in that order. The life-size blue whale model is stupendously large – and that’s after seeing the full-size apatosaurus for comparison.
We made our way out of the city around 1 pm. We didn’t want to get home too late, and the drive can take upwards of six hours with stops and detours to Willimantic and Hampton. The ride home was uneventful, traffic was mostly light and Waze didn’t let us down. Butter the dog was very happy to see us when we picked her up, and I was extremely happy to sleep in my own bed.
We have a new nephew, named Kappa in this blog, so we made a road trip to Maryland to meet him (and support his parents, Tim and Kelly, for a bit). We dropped Butter off at doggie daycare, rented a minivan, packed ourselves and Baba into said van, and headed out.
Little did we know that the D.C. area was set to get the coldest temperatures of the winter (teens and single digits), and a winter’s worth of snow, while we were in town. It was almost like we never left home.
Though the trip down could have gone less eventfully (we hit snow in New Jersey that followed us, off and on, through the rest of the day) we arrived in Frederick, MD safely and in pretty good time. It was the end of the day so we headed off to a very early bedtime after having dinner at the local pizza chain, Ledo Pizza.
Day 1: The Baby
We were in town for one reason, and one reason only: the other-other white meat. After a surprisingly-decent free breakfast at the motel we headed to the Fox residence to meet the new nibling. He wasn’t the happiest kid when he was awake and ate a lot, so no photos as that’s the only sure-fire way to avoid accidental boob shots.
Side note: right before we left town Kappa was prescribed Zantac. It’s given to babies that spit up a lot, which allows them to keep more food down. Who knew. At any rate, it’s making the niblet happier since he’s not so hungry all the time.
We had a great lunch at a local BBQ joint called CarterQue Barbeque and Grilling Company (it’s next door to a veterinarian, which just doesn’t seem right) and a great home-cooked dinner at their house.
Day 2: The Extended Family
We woke to find out that some of the hotel’s pipes had frozen overnight (due to single digit temperatures overnight). Our rooms weren’t affected, fortunately. Megh and I were on our third room and I think the staff would have been mortified if we’d had yet another problem. (The first room stank of air freshener and we immediately requested another, and the second room didn’t have a working shower as the faucet had broken before we took the room, so we moved yet again on our first morning. Kudos to the staff for handling it professionally.)
We had lunch with Meghan and Tim’s uncle, aunt, a couple of cousins, and her cousin’s children – a total of 15 people, including ourselves. It’s worth mentioning here that Meghan’s uncle Tom is a former rear admiral.
Highlights of the day include: the alpha nibling (Delta) getting his fingers caught in a stationary bicycle crank, then walking into a swing while our own Beta child was swinging; and Meghan flooding the bathroom with an overflowing toilet.
Uncle Tommy finally became talkative as we were about to head out the door, so we stayed longer than we intended, as more snow started falling, to hear his stories. The man is fascinating and we started planning another trip just to spend some time with him.
Day 3: Washington, DC In The Snow
Almost six inches of snow fell overnight, which pretty much closed the state. We’re old hands with the snow, however, as we’ve received record snow back home (nearly 100 inches so far, with more snow in the forecast). The federal and local governments shut down, but we bravely headed out on empty, heavily salted and therefore mostly snow-free, roads. We had the city to ourselves!
The Smithsonian only opened three museums: the Air and Space museum, the Modern Art museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. They were limited by the number of people reporting to work so they opened the museums most popular and/or easiest to staff. We never quite left the Air and Space museum, though.
Alpha has had a passing interest in World War Two history, and became deeply interested in the V2 rocket display. She also had fun in the 747 cockpit on display. (It’s the real nose of a 747 and the cockpit is available to step inside, but not to sit.)
Meghan, Baba, and Alpha watched D-Day 3D. I dislike the narrator’s voice (Tom Brokaw) and Beta child was feeling restless, so she and I headed outside to play in the snow and walk around a bit until the movie was done.
Side-Story: Baba and I sat on some benches while Meghan and the kids stopped into the gift shop, and continued an ongoing conversation about current political events. I had mentioned that I felt some congressional intransigence was due to racism against President Obama more than just typical Democratic/Republican squabbling, and our conversation continued.
Several minutes after my comment, the man next to us abruptly stood up, rudely inserted himself into the conversation by saying that not all Republicans are racist and that he really thought that Colin Powell would be the first black president, and left before we could say anything. Apparently I had hit a nerve. :/
We ended the day at Tim and Kelly’s house and some takeout chinese food. Unlike the previous day, nobody was worn out or particularly angry and we actually had time to talk.
The kids broke up their sleeping arrangement when we got back to the hotel, by deciding that they must sleep in separate rooms. Beta stayed with us and went to bed immediately, while Alpha got to stay up late watching a movie with Baba.
Day 4: Touring the Capitol Building
We returned for a second day in the capitol and sightseeing. Baba had scored a tour of the capitol building by contacting her senator, Chris Murphy, so we had a date in the early afternoon.
We rolled into town and spent some time at the museums before our tour. Meghan and the kids went to the American Indian museum (and had a great time, and a great lunch); I went to the National Gallery of Art; Baba went to the National Museum of American History.
We made our way to the Hart Senate Office Building in time for our tour. The congressional staff was very pleasant and professional – a pleasant counter point to the daycare center that Congress is portrayed to be.
After getting checked in we were taken though the tunnels (with a mini-subway system FTW) to the main capitol building.
Highlights of the tour include the original Supreme Court chambers, the original Senate floor, the “Whispering Room” (the original House chambers), and the atrium under the dome (currently being restored but some of the artwork is visible and is gorgeous). Though congress was not in session, we sat in the gallery for a bit.
Interesting to note: you need a ticket to visit the gallery, but the tickets remain good for the rest of the session. Our tickets were free to us. We may re-use our tickets any time for the next few months!
We also had the obligatory self-guided tour of the Capitol gift shop before heading out for the streets again.
We ended our day with dinner at Jaleo. Meghan and I discovered it on a trip to D.C. before we had kids, and were delighted when we discovered that it’s still there. They serve Spanish-style tapas in a funky-yet-hip atmosphere.
We weren’t sure what to order, as all the foods on the menu were unfamiliar to us, so we gave our server a budget and let him choose. Baba had this funny idea that our budget would be around $35 total; I had to butt in and recommend $120 for the five of us (she was shocked and glad that we were paying). The food was fantastic and well-worth the money, though I’m still not sure what I ate (though I know I wouldn’t have ordered it on my own).
The Waze app gave us a tour of the city both coming in and going out, as it routed us around traffic snarls. I don’t think I’ll go road-tripping without it again.
Day 5: Heading Home
Heading home was mostly uneventful, as all such trips should be. The Delaware “tax” was limited to tolls – on nearly every other trip there’s some kind of bad highway situation in Delaware to make the expensive tolls even more painful.
Baba showed distrust in technology and thought that the estimated arrival time that Waze provided was much too optimistic. She loudly doubted the suggested route around Baltimore (taking I-495 South to I-95, instead of taking I-495 North to I-95 which the traffic map showed to be a parking lot). When Waze suggested the Lincoln Tunnel would be faster, Baba offered a bet that it was wrong; when Waze later changed the route again (all long before leaving the New Jersey turnpike) she welshed on the wager.
The wager came and went as we made our way through the city – Waze found an interesting way to get us from the turnpike to the Merritt Parkway, but we arrived at Baba’s house a couple of minutes sooner than the original estimate – just over six hours from door to door, while bypassing some bad traffic snarls.
After dropping off the rental car and retrieving Butter from doggie daycare we made the rest of our way home. We made it in the door an hour before bedtime, with the house still standing and the kitties very glad to see us.